Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Marvel Actors Who've Sadly Passed Away

Superheroes don't really die. Oh, maybe they'll be defeated. Maybe you'll even see a body. But ask any experienced comic book reader and they'll tell you that no matter how unlikely it seems, superheroes always come back. It's just the way that comic books work.

Unfortunately, that isn't true of the men and women who play them. Before their deaths, the following actors didn't just make their marks as some of Marvel's most popular and interesting characters. They left behind a long and impressive body of work, and Hollywood is all the better for their contributions. Here are some Marvel actors who've sadly passed away over the years.

Powers Boothe

Powers Boothe had the perfect name for a supervillain (seriously, that's not a stage name), but he's known for much, much more than his Marvel outings. If you don't recognize Boothe from his brief appearance in "The Avengers" or his run on Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D," you probably know him as cult leader Jim Jones in "Guyana Tragedy," a role that won him an Emmy, as the conniving brothel owner Cy Tolliver on HBO's "Deadwood," as Lamar Wyatt on "Nashville," or as Vice President Noah Daniels on "24." And that's just the beginning.

Marvel fans, however, will always associate Boothe with Gideon Malick, the cunning and ruthless industrialist who oversaw S.H.I.E.L.D. as part of the World Security Council, and later took over as the acting head of HYDRA. Malick first appears in "The Avengers," seen encouraging Nick Fury to nuke New York City in order to stop Loki's alien army, and later returns for "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." as Season 3's big bad. As head of HYDRA, Malick helps rescue the ancient Inhuman Hive from exile in another dimension. As way of thanks, Hive murders Malick's daughter, prompting him to betray HYDRA shortly before he dies at Daisy "Quake" Johnson's hands.

Malick isn't the only comic book character that Boothe played, either. He voiced Gorilla Grodd and Red Tornado in "Justice League Unlimited," played Lex Luthor in the animated feature "Superman: Brainiac Attacks," and appeared in both "Sin City" movies as Senator Roark. Sadly, Boothe passed away in May 2017. Onscreen villainy will never be the same.

Roy Scheider

Frank Castle, alias the Punisher, is one tough son of a gun. According to 2004's "The Punisher," that kind of thing runs in the family. When a group of thugs show up at the Castle family reunion looking to exact revenge, the Punisher's old man, Frank Castle Sr., mows down attackers with a shotgun and stabs a heavy with a knife. Castle Sr. perishes in the attack, of course — the family needs to die for the Punisher to live — but even after his death, he helps his kid out by leaving him a massive gun collection. Frank loves his guns, after all. Like father, like son.

Not that you'd expect anything less from the man who faced down Jaws not once but twice and lived to tell the story. As a teenager, Roy Scheider took part in amateur boxing competitions, amassing an impressive knockout record and a broken nose. After college, he served for three years as an active member of the United States Air Force and remained on the reserve list for a good while longer. Still, Scheider is best remembered as an actor. He netted an Academy Award nomination for playing grizzled Detective "Cloudy" Russo in "The French Connection," and another for his role in "All That Jazz."

It's "Jaws," however, that made Scheider a legend. As Police Chief Martin Brody, Scheider is one of the three men who take to the seas in order to stop the tourist-eating great white. Reportedly, Scheider improvised Brody's most famous line, "You're gonna need a bigger boat," during filming. In his later years, Scheider focused more on politics than show business and ultimately passed away in 2008 after a two-year illness.

Garry Shandling

Revered writer, comedian, and actor Garry Shandling only played a small role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it was an important one. In "Iron Man 2," Shandling's Senator Stern tries to discredit Iron Man and transfer Tony Stark's tech to the United States government, ultimately allying with Stark's rival, Justin Hammer. In "Captain America: Winter Soldier," Stern leans towards a compromised S.H.I.E.L.D. operative and ominously whispers, "Hail HYDRA."

It's one of the most memorable parts of the movie, but it's barely a footnote in Shandling's long and accomplished career. Shandling started his career as a writer for '70s sitcoms like "Sanford and Son" and "Welcome Back, Kotter," but decided to pursue stand-up comedy when he got sick of sitcoms' vapid content and a brutal car accident encouraged him to follow his dreams. In a roundabout way, that brought him back to television. Appearances on "The Tonight Show" landed Shandling a gig as one of Johnny Carson's go-to guest hosts, and eventually led to the subversive, fourth-wall-breaking sitcom "It's Garry Shandling's Show."

Later, Shandling funneled his "Tonight Show" experience into "The Larry Sanders Show," an HBO series about a late-night talk show. It was an instant hit. Over the course of its six-season run, "The Larry Sanders Show" amassed a whopping 56 Emmy nominations, helped make Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn, and Janeane Garofalo into household names, and cemented its place as one of the greatest television shows ever made. In 2016, Shandling appeared on Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" in an episode called "It's Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive." He died a few months later at age 66.

Bill Paxton

When "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." debuted in 2013, it didn't have a lot of star power. The series' biggest star was "ER" vet Ming-Na Wen, and while Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson had appeared in a handful of Marvel movies, he wasn't exactly a marquee character.

Thankfully, that didn't last. After "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" hit theaters, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." revealed its Season 1 endgame — a full-on battle between the good guys and HYDRA for control of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and rolled out the big guns. Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson made brief guest appearances, but fan-favorite character actor Bill Paxton led the charge, bringing Marvel's cyborg assassin John Garrett to life onscreen for the very first time. As Garrett, Paxton lured straight-laced S.H.I.E.L.D agent Grant Ward to the dark side, uncovered the secret behind Phil Coulson's mysterious resurrection, and ultimately ended up on the wrong side of Coulson's disintegration gun.

Paxton was perfect for the part. According to executive producer Jed Whedon, Paxton was everybody's first choice to play Garrett, as unlikely as that seemed to staff at the time. In hindsight, however, his appearance is bittersweet. Paxton, who made his name in geek-friendly movies like "Aliens," "Terminator," "Twister," "Apollo 13," "Tombstone," "True Lies," "Edge of Tomorrow," and many, many others, passed away just a few years later due to complications resulting from heart surgery.

Neil Fingleton

If Neil Fingleton walked into a room, you might not recognize his face, but you'd certainly notice him. The British athlete-turned-actor stood at a record-setting seven feet, seven inches tall, officially making him the tallest man in Britain. As such, it should come as no surprise that Fingleton's career started with basketball. He played college ball at the University of North Carolina and College of the Holy Cross, represented Britain in the World University Games, and later played professionally in Boston, Italy, Spain, and Greece.

However, Fingleton's sports career came to an abrupt end in 2007 when an injury finished his time on the court. He turned to acting, where his massive size landed him all kinds of unique roles. In "Doctor Who," Fingleton appeared opposite Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as the would-be conqueror Fisher King. He played resident "Game of Thrones" giant, Mag the Mighty, a key member of Mance Rayder's wildling army.

On the Marvel side, Fingleton actually played two roles, although you'd be forgiven for not noticing him in one of them. While James Spader voiced Ultron in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," he didn't work alone. Fingleton helped Spader bring the robotic despot to life, working as both a stunt performer and motion capture artist on the big-budget superhero adventure. Fingleton also played a Russian bodyguard in "X-Men: First Class," one of the rare parts that actually revealed his face. He died of heart failure on February 25, 2017.

Cliff Robertson

There's no such thing as a small part. Just look at Cliff Robertson's role in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man." Compared to the rest of the cast, Robertson's Uncle Ben doesn't have much screen time, and he dies early in the movie. But it's Uncle Ben's passing that inspires Peter Parker to become a hero, and it's Ben's famous catchphrase, "With great power comes great responsibility," that serves as Spidey's guiding principle.

Uncle Ben is an important part of Spider-Man's story and requires an actor who can radiate wisdom, warmth, and integrity. Robertson brought all three. Not that this should be a surprise, of course: much like Ben, Robertson was a real-life hero. While he stole hearts as a young JFK in "P.T. 109" and won an Oscar for the lead role in "Charly," he's probably best known for taking a stand against Hollywood corruption. In 1977, Robertson reported that Columbia Pictures head David Begelman had forged his name on a $10,000 check as part of a massive embezzling scheme. In the aftermath, Begelman lost his job (although he landed at MGM a few years later), and Hollywood bigwigs refused to give Robertson more parts.

Robertson never fully embraced the show business machine, and he wasn't sorry for his actions. "If I hadn't done what the law required, which was to give evidence to the authorities, I would have been a party to a crime," he told People. He eventually worked his way back into Hollywood's good graces, although, before his death in 2011, he admitted that "Nobody made more mediocre films than I did." Still, Robertson stood up to the authorities and risked his career for the better good. Ben Parker would be very, very proud.

Harry Dean Stanton

If you don't know Harry Dean Stanton's name, you certainly know his face. In the '60s and '70s, he slowly emerged as one of Hollywood's most reliable character actors, thanks to memorable bit parts in films and television shows like "How the West Was Won," "Cool Hand Luke," "Gunsmoke," and "The Godfather Part II." Stanton's popularity eventually led to bigger supporting roles, including parts in "Alien," "Escape from New York," and "The Green Mile."

Stanton could carry a movie if he needed to, however. In 1984, he took the lead in Wim Wenders' critically acclaimed "Paris, Texas," and the same year, he co-starred as Bud in the cult-classic sci-fi romp "Repo Man." In 1985, his star rose even higher as he played Molly Ringwald's father in "Pretty in Pink," and he went on to portray the disciple Paul in Martin Scorsese's controversial Bible story "The Last Temptation of Christ."

In his later years, Stanton's last big role was as a crafty cult leader in HBO's "Big Love," which he appeared on between 2006 and 2010. He also played a recurring part in "Twin Peaks: The Return," his second-to-last project before his September 2017 passing. In between those parts, however, Stanton found time to sneak into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a small, blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in "The Avengers." You know that security guard who gives a post-Hulk Bruce Banner trouble because he's not wearing any clothes? Yup, that's Stanton.

Yevgeni Eugene Lazarev

Every force has an equal and opposite reaction, and Tony Stark's fast-talking, uber-charming, morally flexible father is nothing if not a force of nature. Of course, he's got an evil counterpart. The "Iron Man 2" depiction of Anton Vanko is a little different from the comics. Instead of the Crimson Dynamo or Whiplash, he's a scientist who leaves the villainy to his son — but that doesn't lessen his impact on Tony Stark's story.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Vanko is a longtime Stark Industries employee (he helps Peggy and Jarvis in an episode of "Agent Carter") who helps Howard Stark develop the Arc Reactor, the ultra-potent power source that powers Iron Man's suit. However, shortly after Stark and Vanko created the new technology, Vanko was found guilty of espionage and was shipped back to Russia. After a lengthy stint in Siberia, Vanko returned to civilization to raise his son, turning Ivan Vanko against the Starks and creating the main villain of "Iron Man 2," Whiplash.

A Russian native, Yevgeni Lazarev was a well-known and accomplished actor in his motherland, where he was honored with the People's Artist of Russia title, the most prestigious government award a Russian performer can attain. On his move to the United States, Lazarev kept right on acting, appearing in films and TV shows like "Lord of War," "24," "Alias," "The West Wing," and many others. He didn't keep all of that experience to himself, either. Between roles, Lazarev taught acting at the University of Southern California. He died of a heart attack in 2016, just a few months after returning home from the United States.

Michael Clarke Duncan

When you're casting someone like crime boss Wilson Fisk, better known to superhero fans as the Kingpin, you need someone who's got a big presence. Michael Clarke Duncan didn't just fit the bill — standing at six feet five inches and weighing close to 300 pounds — he also had charisma to spare. The actor's stature helped land him the gig as the big bad in 2003's "Daredevil," but he didn't coast on his size when he landed the role. While prepping for the part, Duncan hit the gym for half an hour every day, adding 40 pounds to his already massive frame.

Duncan, a superhero fan since childhood, was very enthusiastic about playing Fisk. He re-read Frank Miller's run from front to back before filming "Daredevil" and returned to voice the character in "Spider-Man: The New Animated Series." Still, the Kingpin was just one of many memorable parts Duncan played over the years. He entered show business by working as a bodyguard. In 1997, he was assigned to protect hip-hop artist Notorious B.I.G, but his assignment was switched at the last minute. Biggie was shot a few hours later, and Duncan dropped out of the protection market in order to pursue acting full-time.

Duncan appeared in films like "Armageddon," "The Whole Nine Yards," "Sin City," and others, usually playing criminals or other heavies, but his star-making turn came in 1999 when he joined the cast of Frank Darabont's "The Green Mile." Duncan landed the role as the imposing but gentle inmate John Coffey thanks to his good friend Bruce Willis and was rewarded for his efforts with a handful of award nominations, including the Academy Award for best supporting actor. Duncan passed away from a heart attack in September, 2012.

Bill Bixby

Visit any reasonably sized comic book convention, and you'll find that Lou Ferrigno, the six-foot-five bodybuilder who played Marvel's jade giant on the "Incredible Hulk" television show, is alive, well, and still signing autographs for adoring fans. Unfortunately, his onscreen alter ego, Bill Bixby, is no longer with us. Bixby, who played the Dr. Jekyll to Ferrigno's Mr. Hyde, passed away in 1993 after a two-year battle with cancer.

Bixby will always be best known for his portrayal of David "Bruce" Banner, the heroic scientist who travels the country in search of a cure for his condition, but even without the Marvel bona fides, he'd be well-remembered. In 1971, he was nominated for a best actor Emmy for his ongoing role in "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" and followed that up in 1976 with two more Emmy nods. He was an accomplished director, helming 30 episodes of "Blossom" as well as other television shows. Bixby's showmanship extended offscreen, too. He performed all of his own tricks on NBC's "The Magician" and belonged to Los Angeles' Magic Castle, an exclusive club for members of the magic community.

Sadly, Bixby's personal life was fraught with tragedy. In 1981, his six-year-old son Christopher died from a rare throat infection. His first wife, Brenda Benet, divorced Bixby and died the following year. He was only married to his third wife, Judith Klivan, for six weeks before he died from cancer. It's a sad ending for one of the most accomplished and prolific TV actors of all time — but thanks to his turn as half of the Incredible Hulk, Bixby won't ever be truly forgotten.

Miguel Ferrer

Miguel Ferrer comes from a major show business family — his cousin is superstar George Clooney, and his parents were Oscar-winner Jose Ferrer and '50s pop star Rosemary Clooney. The younger Ferrer became a prolific and intense character actor, recognizable from a number of roles, usually playing bad guys and authority figures. David Lynch fans will no doubt remember Ferrer as the incredibly opinionated FBI agent Albert Rosenfield on the original "Twin Peaks," as well as the 2017 revival. He also co-starred in the 1994 adaptation of Stephen King's "The Stand," playing Randall Flagg's right-hand man, Lloyd Henreid.

Of course, Ferrer didn't only show up in supernatural series. He played Dr. Garret Macy on NBC's "Crossing Jordan," and he joined the cast of "NCIS: Los Angeles" as the mysterious Owen Granger, overseer of the Office of Special Projects. Apart from his dozens of other TV guest star roles, Ferrer made memorable appearances in films like "Traffic," "Hot Shots: Part Deux," and "RoboCop." But observant MCU fans will remember him for his brief but important part in "Iron Man 3." In the final entry of Tony Stark's trilogy, Ferrer plays Rodriguez, the corrupt, Mandarin-connected vice president of the United States who tries to help assassinate President Matthew Ellis. Sadly, in January 2017, Ferrer died after a struggle with cancer, passing away at the age of 61.

John Pinette

When stand-up comedy boomed in the 1980s and early 1990s, clubs popped up in most every city, and cable networks filled out their programming day with shows like "An Evening at the Improv" and "The HBO Comedy Half-Hour," a ton of joke-tellers became instantly famous and familiar. Among that class was John Pinette, a gifted stand-up and impressionist. 

A heavyset man, Pinette dedicated a lot of his act to making fun of himself and his robust eating habits. His most famous bit concerned his interaction with an exasperated buffet manager. Pinette toured and taped comedy extensively while also landing acting roles. After playing a high school gym teacher on "Parker Lewis Can't Lose," he appeared on "Seinfeld," "Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist," and in 2004, he showed up as Bumpo in the ultra-violent film adaptation of the ultra-violent revenge comic "The Punisher," opposite Thomas Jane. 

Pinette provided lightness and comedy to the otherwise dark movie as the easy-going character and the financial beneficiary of the Punisher righting wrongs. Tragically, in 2014, Pinette was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room, and a medical examiner ruled that he'd perished as a result of natural causes. Pinette was only 50.

Peter Fonda

Nicolas Cage is such a comic book fan that he named his son Kal-El (after Superman's real name) and almost starred in an ill-fated Man of Steel movie. But in 2007, he finally got a superhero franchise going with two "Ghost Rider" movies. Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a bounty hunter forced into service for the unholy demon Mephistopheles. And playing the Ghost Rider's wicked boss was Hollywood scion Peter Fonda, brother of Jane, son of Henry, and father of Bridget. 

His role in "Ghost Rider" is among the last in a long, legendary career. In 1969, he wrote, produced, and starred in the hippie and counterculture classic biker movie "Easy Rider," for which he received his first of two Academy Award nominations. The second came for 1997's "Ulee's Gold," in which Fonda starred as a grieving beekeeper with a troubled family. In between, Fonda appeared in dozens of well-known movies, including "The Last Movie," "The Cannonball Run," and "Escape from L.A." In 2019, the official Marvel movie actor (and unofficial, as his "Easy Rider" character was nicknamed "Captain America") passed away at age 79 after a battle with lung cancer.

Irrfan Khan

Just before 2010, Irrfan Khan started to pop up in all kinds of popular and acclaimed American and British films. He played a police detective in the Oscar-nominated "Slumdog Millionaire," and he portrayed the adult version of main character Pi Patel, recalling his survival of a shipwreck in the Oscar-nominated "Life of Pi." He also showed up as dinosaur park owner Simon Masrani in "Jurassic World," and he played the villainous Provost in "Inferno."

Fans of Andrew Garflield's Peter Parker will also recognize him from "The Amazing Spider-Man," where he played Oscorp executive and scientist Dr. Rajit Ratha, whom Spidey attempts to save from certain doom. But even before his many high-profile roles in Western blockbusters, Khan was a superstar and one of the most acclaimed and beloved actors of all time in India. A prolific television actor, Khan broke through to the A-list of Indian cinema in the 2000s and won numerous accolades for his work in "Life in a Metro," "Haasil," and "Paan Singh Tomar," which won the man a National Film Award for Best Actor. "

In 2018, Khan announced that he'd been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor, and following a hospitalization in Mumbai for an infection in 2020, the superstar died at age 53.

Richard Kiley

Back in 2008, Iron Man became the first Marvel Cinematic Universe entry, but the modern history of movies based on Marvel Comics characters goes back to 1986 with "Howard the Duck," a critically reviled box office flop about a wisecracking extraterrestrial waterfowl. The title character deals with all sorts of sci-fi stuff, including the Cosmos itself, personified and voiced by veteran actor Richard Kiley. 

And there's a reason Kiley was hired for his vocals. By 1986, Kiley was best known for his pipes. He provided narration for many National Geographic TV specials and dozens of TV commercials. He was such a prolific voice actor that he gets a shoutout in "Jurassic Park" when dinosaur island director John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) remarks that he "spared no expense" in landing Kiley as the voice of the park's automated tour. 

Kiley was a decorated actor, winning four Emmy Awards – one for "A Year in the Life" and one for "The Thorn Birds," among others — and two Tony Awards, including one for "Man of La Mancha," in which Kiley originated the role of Don Quixote and introduced the standard "The Impossible Dream." Kiley died in March 1999 of a blood disorder. He was 76 years old.

Derrick O'Connor

There are those particular director-actor team-ups where the mutual fondness and familiarity breeds magic every time the duo collaborates. There's Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, or Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa. And then there's the less-known but equally amazing duo of Terry Gilliam and Derrick O'Connor, who worked together on three bizarre, visionary, surreal films — "Jabberwocky," "Time Bandits," and "Brazil."

Those beloved films were made better by O'Connor's often very physical, lightly verbal performances, and he brought his idiosyncratic style to other widely liked movies, including "Lethal Weapon 2" (as two-faced South African mercenary Pieter Vorstedt), "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (as an old buccaneer), and the 2003 Ben Affleck-starring Marvel movie "Daredevil." In that reviled superhero flick, O'Connor portrays Father Everett, confidante to the hero's Matt Murdock alter ego and a priest who doesn't think too much of his pal's vigilante crimefighting behavior. The versatile, physically chameleonic actor died in June 2018, succumbing to pneumonia. O'Connor was 77.

Darren McGavin

In the superhero cinematic wilderness of the 1990s — long before Tobey Maguire played Spider-Man or the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — comics fans hungry for content had to make do with fare like "Captain America," a low-budget adaptation released directly to home video and cable in 1992. Little-known up-and-comer Matt Salinger (son of acclaimed and reclusive author J.D. Salinger) played Steve Rogers, and the best-known actor in the film was arguably Darren McGavin, who portrayed World War II-era military authority figure General Fleming. 

The familiar-faced character actor had worked in mainstream movies and television since the 1950s, when he starred in the shows "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer" and "Riverboat." In the '70s, McGavin headlined the cult horror/sci-fi series "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," just a few years before he'd land his most famous role, that of Ralphie's father — or the "Old Man" — in "A Christmas Story." He played dads often, including a recurring role as Murphy Brown's father in "Murphy Brown" and Billy Madison's father in "Billy Madison." Sadly, McGavin passed away in 2006 at the age of 83, leaving behind many roles that were far more memorable than his part in "Captain America."

Reg E. Cathey

As one of film and TV's most prolific, intense, and versatile character actors, it's hard to say exactly which role is the one for which Reg E. Cathey is best known. It might be warden Martin Querns on the harrowing prison drama "Oz," or political organizer Norman Wilson on "The Wire," the chief of police on Robert Kirkman's "Outcast," a detective on the cult hit "Banshee," various roles on the 1980s PBS educational sketch comedy show "Square One Television," or barbecue joint proprietor Freddy Hayes on "House of Cards," which won Cathey an Emmy Award for outstanding guest actor in a drama series. 

Cathey also played more than one role in multiple Marvel franchises. In the 2015 "Fantastic Four" reboot, he portrayed Dr. Franklin Storm, father of superheroes Sue and Johnny Storm, and on the Netflix MCU-adjacent series "Luke Cage," Cathey took the role of James Lucas, a pastor and the father of the titular character. In February 2018, Cathey died at his New York City home. According to the New York Times, the cause of death was lung cancer. Cathey was 59.

Dr. Wesley Von Spears

Dr. Wesley Von Spears appears briefly in the first two "Guardians of the Galaxy" films. He doesn't have any lines, but he's memorable just the same because Von Spears was a dog. In "Guardians of the Galaxy," he portrayed "Holographic Dog," and in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" he played the part of "Dog in the Back of Truck at Dairy Queen." In Hollywood, landing a role is sometimes about who you know, and nepotism definitely played a part in Von Spears' casting in the MCU — he's the pet of "Guardians" writer-director James Gunn. The dog's influence on Marvel movies comprises more than just a couple of cameos. "Truthfully, a lot of Groot is based on my dog Von Spears," Gunn told i09. "I think there's a sort of puppy-like innocence to Groot. That if my dog could talk, it would probably say, 'I am Groot.'"

Dr. Wesley Von Spears died at age 17 in February 2020. Gunn briefly delayed filming on his next film, "The Suicide Squad," to fly home and be with his dog in his final moments.

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman had a promising start in Hollywood prior to joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He first rose to prominence portraying baseball player Jackie Robinson in the biopic "42," which he followed up with performances as other historical figures like James Brown and Thurgood Marshall in their respective biopics. His biggest break, however, came when he debuted in "Captain America: Civil War" as T'Challa, the young king of Wakanda who adopts the superhero mantle of Black Panther.

Boseman's starring role in 2018's "Black Panther" made him an international superstar. Sadly, his prime was cut short when the actor passed away from colon cancer in August 2020. His role in the 2020 August Wilson adaptation "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" earned him posthumous nominations at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Academy Awards in 2021. 

As for his role in the Marvel universe, the decision was made to not re-cast the actor in the role of T'Challa, with "Black Panther" director Ryan Coogler instead incorporating the loss of the character into the next film. "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" was released in 2022, paying tribute to Boseman's meaningful impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and passing on the mantle of Black Panther to his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright).

William Hurt

William Hurt had a long and illustrious career before joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, prominently appearing in films like "Broadcast News," "A History of Violence," and "Kiss of the Spider Woman," the latter of which garnered him both an Oscar and a BAFTA Award for best actor. Hurt eventually made his MCU debut in 2008's "The Incredible Hulk" opposite Edward Norton as Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, a U.S. general who spends the film hunting down Bruce Banner after a super-soldier experiment goes wrong.

Hurt reprised his role as Ross, usually in an antagonistic role, in later MCU films like "Captain America: Civil War" and "Avengers: Infinity War." Meanwhile, Hurt was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in 2018, though he still made one final appearance as Thunderbolt Ross in 2021's "Black Widow." His final theatrical role in general was an appearance in "The King's Daughter," which was released in January 2022 despite being filmed in 2014, remaining unreleased for eight years due to a dispute over its distribution. 

The actor passed away in 2022 due to complications from his disease, which resulted in tributes from actors and friends who had admired him, including Marvel actors like Mark Ruffalo, Kat Dennings, and Patton Oswalt. Unlike Boseman, however, Marvel decided to recast the role of Thunderbolt Ross for future Marvel Cinematic Universe films, with the legendary Harrison Ford signing on to fill Hurt's shoes in the upcoming Phase 5 films "Captain America: Brave New World" and "Thunderbolts." 

Annie Wersching

Many fandoms were devastated when Annie Wersching sadly passed away in January 2023. The actress was widely known for her roles in shows like "24" and "Timeless," as well as supporting roles in "Castle," "The Vampire Diaries," and "The Rookie." Wersching also notably performed motion capture and voice acting for the iconic 2013 video game "The Last of Us" as Tess, a smuggler who's partnered with Joel at the start of the game. 

Wersching also appears as part of the main cast in Marvel's "Runaways," a Hulu series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that premiered in 2017, running for a total of three seasons. Wersching portrayed Leslie Dean, a religious leader and mother to Virginia Gardner's Karolina Dean. More recently, in 2022, Wersching also appeared in "Star Trek: Picard" as the Borg Queen, a role originated by Alice Krige in "Star Trek: First Contact." 

Sadly, this wound up being Wersching's final TV role. The actress was diagnosed with cancer in 2020 but kept her illness a secret leading up to her death in 2023. Her condition had even prevented her from making a guest appearance in HBO's TV adaptation of "The Last of Us" alongside other actors from the games. HBO paid tribute to Wersching at the start of the third episode, which was the first to come out following her passing.

Ray Stevenson

Ray Stevenson was no stranger to the Marvel universe when he joined the cast of 2011's "Thor," having previously appeared as Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher, in the 2008 film "Punisher: War Zone." Over the years, Stevenson was also notable for appearances in films like "Kill the Irishman" and "RRR," as well as television series like "Dexter," "Black Sails," and "Star Wars Rebels." 

However, in 2011, he made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut as Volstagg, an Asgardian warrior who helps rescue Thor from Earth after his banishment by Odin. Stevenson reprised the role in "Thor: The Dark World," where Volstagg fights alongside Thor against the Dark Elves, and "Thor: Ragnarok," where he's killed by Hela during her conquest of Asgard at the beginning of the film.

Unfortunately, "Thor: Ragnarok" ended up being Stevenson's last appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the actor passed away in May 2023 after a sudden hospitalization on the set of a film in Italy. For fans of the actor's work, he makes a posthumous appearance in the upcoming Disney+ "Star Wars" series "Ahsoka."

James Colby

James Colby played two separate Marvel characters on the big screen. The first was a police officer in 2014's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," but he had a more significant role in "Jessica Jones," albeit only appearing in one episode of the series. His lack of presence in the show is mainly due to the fact that he played Jessica's father, Brian Jones, who dies in a car accident prior to the events of the show.

Flashbacks in the first season episode depict Brian as arrogant and insecure about his own masculinity, and these qualities eventually result in the car accident that both kills him and imbues his wife and daughter with superpowers. The incident continues to haunt Jessica throughout the series, although Colby never re-appears as the character.

Sadly, Colby passed away in February 2018, with his last major screen roles being in the TV shows "Empire" and "Chicago P.D." 

Gaspard Ulliel

Gaspard Ulliel rose to prominence in 2007 after appearing in the "Silence of the Lambs" prequel "Hannibal Rising" as a young version of Anthony Hopkins' iconic serial killer character. The actor later made significant appearances in "Saint Laurent," "A Very Long Engagement," and "It's Only the End of the World," the latter of which earned him the César Award for best actor in 2017. 

Sadly, Ulliel passed away in early 2022 after a skiing accident in France, which preceded his appearance in the MCU series "Moon Knight" that same year. Ulliel appears in the series' third episode, "The Friendly Type," as Anton Mogart, who in the comics is an antiques thief known as Midnight Man. In "Moon Knight," Mogart is a wealthy collector who owns a sarcophagus that Marc Spector and Layla El-Faouly need to find the tomb of Ammit. Ulliel was paid tribute in the episode during the end credits.

Michael Lerner

Michael Lerner passed away in April of 2023 at 81 years old, sparking an outpouring of love from folks across the entertainment industry. In his career, Lerner was nominated for best supporting actor at the 1992 Academy Awards for playing Jack Lipnick in "Barton Fink." Additionally, Lerner played a significant role in the 2003 holiday movie "Elf" as Mr. Greenway, the demanding boss of James Caan's Walter Hobbs. 

Lerner also made notable appearances in films like "Eight Men Out," the 1998 "Godzilla" film, and "No Escape." However, it wasn't until 2014 that he joined the Marvel universe. In "X-Men: Days of Future Past," Lerner played U.S. Senator Brickman, who votes to suspend funding for Bolivar Trask's Sentinels program. 

Sadly, the role ended up being one of Lerner's last, as he only appeared in two other films after "X-Men: Days of Future Past" — "Ashby" in 2015 and the 2019 Netflix mockumentary "Frankenstein's Monster's Monster, Frankenstein," the latter of which was Lerner's final performance prior to his retirement and subsequent passing.

Lucy Gordon

Lucy Gordon was an up-and-comer in Hollywood at the time she was cast in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 3" as Jennifer Dugan, a news reporter who covers Sandman and Venom's attack on New York City and subsequent battle against Spider-Man and Harry Osborne. Before that, she appeared in a number of other films, starred alongside Heath Ledger in "The Four Feathers," playing Caroline Mitchell in the 2001 romantic comedy "Serendipity," and even modeling for CoverGirl in the late 1990s. 

Prior to the release of her final film "Serge Gainsbourg" in 2009, in which Gordon portrays British celebrity Jane Birkin, the partner of the titular singer-songwriter, she died by suicide in her Paris apartment. Gordon was only a few days short of her 29th birthday at the time of her death

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org

Stephen Del Bagno

Not many real-life people have the honor of saying they got to play themselves in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. However, one person who did get the privilege was Stephen "Cajun" Del Bagno, a United States Air Force fighter pilot who has a cameo in "Captain Marvel" alongside other real-life USAF aviators. Their presence in the film is a tribute to the origin of Brie Larson's Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot who loses her memory after she crashes her fighter jet and becomes imbued with superpowers.

In addition to appearing in the film, Del Bagno served as a consultant on "Captain Marvel," but it was only shortly after that he passed away when his fighter jet crashed during training. It was a devastating blow to the film's crew, who had only gotten to know Del Bagno briefly during production but quickly came to respect him. Larson even posted a tribute to Del Bagno, writing "Your humble attitude and ideals have stayed with me and inspired a stronger approach to my work."

Though his cameo was kept in the final film, Del Bagno was also paid tribute to in the end credits. The film's crew also snuck his codename, "Cajun," into the background of many scenes.

Norm Spencer

Norm Spencer was beloved in the voice acting community, although he never made a live-action appearance in the Marvel universe. From 1992 to 1997, Spencer played Cyclops in "X-Men: The Animated Series." He reprised the role in two episodes of "Spider-Man: The Animated Series," which aired in 1995. Spencer also portrayed the character in several X-Men-related video games, including 1994's arcade classic "X-Men: Children of the Atom" and the crossover fighting game "Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes." 

Spencer also made an appearance in the short-lived 1998 animated series "Silver Surfer," which, like "X-Men: The Animated Series" and "Spider-Man: The Animated Series," aired on Fox Kids. In that series, Spencer voiced Drax the Destroyer, the Marvel Comics character who later became famous through Dave Bautista's performance in the MCU's "Guardians of the Galaxy" films. 

Sadly, Spencer passed away in August 2020, leading to a slew of tributes from his former co-stars. In Marvel's upcoming "X-Men '97" revival series on Disney+, the character of Cyclops will instead be voiced by Ray Chase. 

David Hemblen

Sadly, Norm Spencer isn't the only original cast member of "X-Men: The Animated Series" to have passed away in recent years. David Hemblen voiced Magneto, the main antagonist for most of the show prior to joining forces with the X-Men to fight threats like Apocalypse. Hemblen lent an iconic voice to one of the most significant Marvel supervillains. However, his career began way before the animated series premiered in 1992. 

The English actor was known for his work on television shows like "Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future," as well as a supporting role in the Mr. T-starring "T. and T." in the late 1980s. In the film world, Hemblen made appearances in '90s movies like "Tommy Boy," "Pocahontas: The Legend," and "Hollow Point." His work thinned out by the mid-2000s, with his last credited role being a video game voice part in "Warriors: Legends of Troy" in 2011. 

Hemblen passed away in November 2020 at the age of 79. In "X-Men '97," the role of Magneto has been recast with Matthew Waterson, who's already voiced characters in Marvel universe video games and animated shorts.

Jim Gunn Sr.

These two Marvel Cinematic Universe actors who appear in 2017's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" are not professionals, but they do have a strong connection to the Marvel universe. Their names are Jim Gunn Sr. and Leota Gunn, and they're the father and mother of the film's writer and director James Gunn, as well as Kraglin actor and Rocket Raccoon stand-in Sean Gunn. In the film, the two appear as humans on Earth credited as "Weird Old Man" and "Weird Old Man's Mistress" who watch Earth almost be swallowed by Ego the Living Planet. 

To make things even more of a family affair, Gunn confirmed that some of the other extras surrounding his parents in the scene include his sister-in-law, his nieces and nephews, and other members of Gunn's extended family. As he later confirmed on social media, "My family loves getting killed in my movies."

Sadly, Gunn's father passed away in 2019, making the themes of fatherhood in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" hit even harder, especially considering that Gunn Sr. physically appears in the film. Gunn's father is paid tribute to in the credits of 2023's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," alongside Marvel Studios crew member Chris Reynolds and special effects supervisor Chris Shaw. 

Stan Lee

It's difficult to think about the Marvel brand without thinking of Stan Lee, the writer behind such classic Marvel Comics characters as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. Together with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee is responsible for pioneering a new approach to comic book characterization, ushering in an age of relatable superheroes and real-life consequences. Most of the general public became acquainted with Lee's presence in the Marvel universe thanks to his numerous cameos in films based on his characters over the years.

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially began in 2008 with "Iron Man," it had already become customary for Lee to cameo in the films. Sadly, Lee died in 2018, one year after his wife Joan, who had inspired characters like Gwen Stacy and Sue Storm, passed away. Following his death, many tributes were made to the creator of the Marvel universe, particularly from those who were lucky enough to meet and work with him, including Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Robert Downey Jr., and Evangeline Lilly. 

Lee's last two posthumous appearances in the MCU were the 2019 films "Captain Marvel" and "Avengers: Endgame." The former also pays tribute to Lee's cameo in Kevin Smith's "Mallrats," while the latter features a digitally de-aged Lee in 1970s New Jersey. His impact on these characters is still felt to this day.